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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus Model A318, A319, and A321 series airplanes; and Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by reports of wear of the trimmable horizontal stabilizer actuator (THSA). This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections of the THSA for damage, and replacement if necessary; and replacement of the THSA after reaching a certain life limit. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct wear on the THSA, which would reduce the remaining life of the THSA, possibly resulting in premature failure and consequent reduced control of the airplane.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by December 1, 2014.

ADDRESSES:

You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.
  • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
  • Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email account.airworth-eas@airbus.com; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Start Printed Page 62073Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-0748; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1405; fax 425-227-1149.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2014-0748; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-013-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

Discussion

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0011R1, dated January 17, 2014 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Model A318, A319, and A321 series airplanes and Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes. The MCAI states:

In the frame of the A320 Extended Service Goal (ESG) project and the study on the Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer Actuator (THSA), a sampling programme of in-service units has been performed and several cases of wear at different THSA levels were reported.

This condition, if not detected and corrected, would reduce the remaining life of the THSA, possibly resulting in premature failure and consequent reduced control of the aeroplane.

Prompted by these findings, Airbus issued Service Bulletin (SB) A320-27-1227 to provide THSA inspection instructions.

For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD requires repetitive inspections of the THSA and introduces a life limit for the THSA.

The MCAI specifies a detailed inspection of the magnetic chip detector for metal particles, a spectrometric analysis of the oil drained from the THSA gearbox, a detailed inspection of the ballscrew and nut, and a detailed inspection of the upper and the lower attachments for damage. The corrective action is replacement of the THSA with a serviceable THSA. The compliance time for the THSA replacement ranges from before further flight to within 4 months from drainage of the oil sample. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-0748.

Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013. The actions described in this service information are intended to correct the unsafe condition identified in the MCAI.

FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, we have been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of these same type designs.

“Contacting the Manufacturer” Paragraph in This Proposed AD

Since late 2006, we have included a standard paragraph titled “Airworthy Product” in all MCAI ADs in which the FAA develops an AD based on a foreign authority's AD.

The MCAI or referenced service information in an FAA AD often directs the owner/operator to contact the manufacturer for corrective actions, such as a repair. Briefly, the Airworthy Product paragraph allowed owners/operators to use corrective actions provided by the manufacturer if those actions were FAA-approved. In addition, the paragraph stated that any actions approved by the State of Design Authority (or its delegated agent) are considered to be FAA-approved.

In an NPRM having Directorate Identifier 2012-NM-101-AD (78 FR 78285, December 26, 2013), we proposed to prevent the use of repairs that were not specifically developed to correct the unsafe condition, by requiring that the repair approval provided by the State of Design Authority or its delegated agent specifically refer to the FAA AD. This change was intended to clarify the method of compliance and to provide operators with better visibility of repairs that are specifically developed and approved to correct the unsafe condition. In addition, we proposed to change the phrase “its delegated agent” to include a design approval holder (DAH) with State of Design Authority design organization approval (DOA), as applicable, to refer to a DAH authorized to approve required repairs for the proposed AD.

One commenter to the NPRM having Directorate Identifier 2012-NM-101-AD (78 FR 78285, December 26, 2013) stated the following: “The proposed wording, being specific to repairs, eliminates the interpretation that Airbus messages are acceptable for approving minor deviations (corrective actions) needed during accomplishment of an AD mandated Airbus service bulletin.”

This comment has made the FAA aware that some operators have misunderstood or misinterpreted the Airworthy Product paragraph to allow the owner/operator to use messages provided by the manufacturer as approval of deviations during the accomplishment of an AD-mandated action. The Airworthy Product paragraph does not approve messages or other information provided by the manufacturer for deviations to the requirements of the AD-mandated actions. The Airworthy Product paragraph only addresses the requirement to contact the manufacturer for corrective actions for the identified unsafe condition and does not cover deviations from other AD requirements. However, deviations to AD-required actions are addressed in 14 CFR 39.17, and anyone may request the approval for an alternative method of compliance Start Printed Page 62074to the AD-required actions using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19.

To address this misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Airworthy Product paragraph, we have changed the paragraph and retitled it “Contacting the Manufacturer.” This paragraph now clarifies that for any requirement in this proposed AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the actions must be accomplished using a method approved by the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), or Airbus's EASA DOA.

The Contacting the Manufacturer paragraph also clarifies that, if approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature. The DOA signature indicates that the data and information contained in the document are EASA-approved, which is also FAA-approved. Messages and other information provided by the manufacturer that do not contain the DOA-authorized signature are not EASA-approved, unless EASA directly approves the manufacturer's message or other information.

This clarification does not remove flexibility previously afforded by the Airworthy Product paragraph. Consistent with long-standing FAA policy, such flexibility was never intended for required actions. This is also consistent with the recommendation of the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee to increase flexibility in complying with ADs by identifying those actions in manufacturers' service instructions that are “Required for Compliance” with ADs. We continue to work with manufacturers to implement this recommendation. But once we determine that an action is required, any deviation from the requirement must be approved as an alternative method of compliance.

We also have decided not to include a generic reference to either the “delegated agent” or “design approval holder (DAH) with State of Design Authority design organization approval,” but instead we have provided the specific delegation approval granted by the State of Design Authority for the DAH.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD affects 851 airplanes of U.S. registry.

We also estimate that it would take about 6 work-hours per product to comply with the inspection requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost for the inspection specified in this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $434,010, or $510 per product.

We estimate that it would take about 7 work-hours per product to comply with the actuator replacement requirements of this proposed AD. Required parts would cost about $240,000 per product. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost for the actuator replacement specified in this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $204,746,345, or $240,595 per product.

Authority for This Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. “Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs,” describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in “Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

Regulatory Findings

We determined that this proposed AD would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

1. Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866;

2. Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

4. Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

  • Air transportation
  • Aircraft
  • Aviation safety
  • Incorporation by reference
  • Safety
End List of Subjects

The Proposed Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

Start Part

PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

End Part Start Amendment Part

1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows:

End Amendment Part Start Authority

Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

End Authority
[Amended]
Start Amendment Part

2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):

End Amendment Part

Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2014-0748; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-013-AD.

(a) Comments Due Date

We must receive comments by December 1, 2014.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to the Airbus airplanes, certificated in any category, identified in paragraphs (c)(1), (c)(2), (c)(3), and (c)(4) of this AD, all manufacturer serial numbers.

(1) Model A318-111, -112, -121, and -122 airplanes.

(2) Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes.

(3) Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes.

(4) Model A321-111, -112, -131, -211, -212, -213, -231, and -232 airplanes.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 27, Flight Controls.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by reports of wear of the trimmable horizontal stabilizer actuator (THSA). We are issuing this AD to detect and correct wear on the THSA, which would reduce the remaining life of the THSA, possibly resulting in premature failure and consequent reduced control of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

(g) Initial Inspections

At the later of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) of this AD: Do a detailed inspection of the magnetic chip detector for metal particles, a spectrometric analysis of the oil drained from the THSA gearbox, a detailed inspection of the ballscrew and nut for damage (including, but not limited to, cracks, dents, corrosion, and Start Printed Page 62075unsatisfactory surface protection), and a detailed inspection of the upper and the lower attachments for damage (including, but not limited to, cracks, dents, corrosion, and unsatisfactory surface protection), in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013.

(1) Before the THSA accumulates 48,000 total flight hours or 30,000 total flight cycles, whichever occurs first since first installation on an airplane.

(2) Within 4 months after the effective date of this AD.

(h) Repetitive Inspections

Repeat the inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD thereafter at intervals not to exceed the applicable time specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD.

(1) For a THSA that, as of the date of the most recent inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD, has accumulated less than 67,500 total flight hours since first installation on an airplane: The repetitive inspection interval is 24 months.

(2) For a THSA that, as of the date of the most recent inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD, has accumulated 67,500 total flight hours or more since first installation on an airplane: The repetitive inspection interval is 4 months.

(i) THSA Corrective Action

If, during any inspection required by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD, any finding as described in Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013, is found: At the applicable compliance time (depending on the applicable findings) specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013, replace the THSA with a serviceable THSA, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013. For the purposes of this AD, a serviceable THSA is a THSA that has accumulated less than 67,500 total flight hours since first installation on an airplane.

(j) THSA Replacement

Before a THSA accumulates 67,500 total flight hours since first installation on an airplane, or within 12 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later: Replace the THSA with a serviceable THSA, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013. Thereafter, before the accumulation of 67,500 total flight hours since first installation on an airplane on any THSA, replace it with a serviceable THSA.

(k) Replacement THSA: No Terminating Action

Replacement of a THSA on an airplane, as required by paragraph (i) or (j) of this AD, does not constitute terminating action for the repetitive inspections required by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD for that airplane. After THSA replacement: At the applicable compliance time specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), (h)(1), and (h)(2) of this AD, do the inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

(l) Replacement THSA Equivalency

Repairs of a THSA in shop, as described in United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems Component Maintenance Manual 27-44-51, are considered equivalent to having passed an inspection in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, dated July 1, 2013; or Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, Revision 01, dated October 7, 2013. Depending on the flight hours or flight cycles accumulated by the repaired THSA: At the applicable compliance time specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), (h)(1), and (h)(2) of this AD, do the inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

(m) Parts Installation Limitation

As of the effective date of this AD, installation on an airplane of a THSA that has accumulated 67,500 or more total flight hours is allowed, provided that, prior to installation, the THSA has been modified or inspected using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

(n) Credit for Previous Actions

This paragraph provides credit for inspections required by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD, if those inspections were performed before the effective date of this AD using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1227, dated July 1, 2013, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(o) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1405; fax 425-227-1149. Information may be emailed to: 9-ANM-116-AMOC-REQUESTS@faa.gov. Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

(2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(p) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) European Aviation Safety Agency Airworthiness Directive 2014-0011R1, dated January 17, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-0748.

(2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email account.airworth-eas@airbus.com; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 23, 2014.

Dionne Palermo,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2014-24557 Filed 10-15-14; 8:45 am]

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